Monday, September 20, 2010

Outdoor Weddings Build Bridges Between Humanity and Nature

As increasing numbers of people are recognizing their kinship with Nature, more and more couples are electing to take their marriage vows in the great outdoors.  The majority of the weddings I have performed in my three years as a wedding celebrant have taken place in the open air. I have conducted ceremonies in a boat on a lake, on lakeshores and riverbanks, on farms, in gardens, and in parks. Once upon a time, if a marriage was not sanctioned in a church, the only choice was a courthouse or a judge’s office. Now that the concept of celebrancy has made it possible for couples to have meaningful ceremonies without the benefit of a specific religious clergyperson, the venue selection for weddings is limited only by the logistics of getting guests and celebrant to the chosen site.
 Outdoor wedding sites lend themselves to the incorporation of readings and symbolism that compare the beauty and love of nature with the love shared by the bride and groom. One of my favorites is this excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres:

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathless, it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. . . .
That is just ‘being in love’ which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
May your roots grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossoms fall from your branches,
you find out that you are one tree, and not two.

The couples who choose this reading for their wedding ceremony have realized that yes, their roots are so entwined that they never want to part, and they love to spend time outside together.

Sometimes a couple chooses to marry during a particular season because of what it symbolizes to them. I performed a late August wedding at a farm, where the bridal party stood with me in front of a golden corn field, under a deep blue sky. In the opening words to their ceremony I told their guests that they had been invited “to witness this blessed union at Maple Shade Farm, where the fruits of divine creation and human labor are harvested, because the bride and groom view their marriage as an opportunity to celebrate their eternal, spiritual connection with the earth and all of God's creation, as well as with each other. They chose to marry at this time because they feel that the ripe corn symbolizes the strength and abundance of the relationship they have been nurturing these past three years, and the love that provides nourishment for their souls.” Later, as the bride and groom took their vows, a flock of ravens rose up from the cornfield and soared overhead to bless the couple with their magnificence.

Nature often bestows her personal gift on the bride and groom that choose to marry outdoors. During one mountain-top wedding a Monarch butterfly fluttered around the couple throughout the entire ceremony. Another farm wedding was blessed by a hummingbird that flitted from the groom's boutonniere to the bride’s bouquet of sunflowers as they took their vows!

An outdoor wedding poses certain challenges such as: making alternate plans in case of inclement weather and foregoing candles and tall flower vases that may be blown over by a sudden gust of wind. But for those who love the beauty of nature, and for those who feel most connected to the divine essence of life when they are among trees or on a waterfront, an outdoor wedding with a nature-theme ceremony can be the most meaningful way to celebrate a new beginning as husband and wife. It can also symbolize the beginning of a union that will be dedicated to building bridges of love between humanity and nature.

Learn more about Emily's custom-written ceremonies at: Custom Wedding Ceremonies

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1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, Emily! I have had the joy of officiating many outdoor weddings. Sometimes, Mother Nature even decides to offer her own blessings on the couple! Recently, at a ceremony held in a Chicago park overlooking Lake Michigan and the city skyline, there was a definite concern about possible rain. The afternoon was overcast and breezy, but at the very moment the couple said, "I do," the sun broke through. It was absolutely perfect! You never know what lovely surprises an outdoor wedding will bring!